For Family and Friends
I thought I was providing a service by remembering James and reassuring his family and friends that he was not forgotten. James’ family and friends do deserve our attention – but not out of sympathy; out of respect and appreciation and out of a desire to learn by James’ example through them.
It is thanks to James’ parents and family and friends that he became the man he did. They deserve our respect and gratitude for the service they have done for us through James. And in recognition of James’ example – we should be grateful to learn about him through them.
Expected to offer comfort that I honored James
Expected to reassure you that I appreciate his character and sacrifice.
I’d rather share with you that his memory inspires me to try harder in honor of him.
That hearing about how warm and engaging he was makes me want to break free of my own comfort zone.
That hearing about his dedication and resilience makes me want to overcome discouragement.
That hearing about his faith and compassion makes me want to spend less time thinking about myself.
That learning about his lightheartedness and enthusiasm makes me want to appreciate my daily life more.
And – yes – hearing what a PT stud he was motivates me to get to the gym to get in better shape.
Not saying anything magical happened; I can’t promise that I am a better man today after learning about James’ life. But I can tell you that learning about his life inspires me to accept the challenge to emulate the best in James. I can tell you that I will pick myself up sooner; I will be kinder; I will seize more opportunities to encourage and help others because of his legacy – because his legacy has already challenged me over and over again – and I have accepted that challenge.
Memorializing Them isn’t an Act of Generosity … Their Memory Is a Challenge to Live Better
Memorializing The Fallen Isn’t a Community Service …
Their Memory Challenges Us to Serve our Communities
I thought I was giving something of myself;
But giving of ourselves is not “extra credit” – it is simply fulfilling our inherent duty
It isn’t something extra and generous to honor James – it is our duty
It isn’t something we give of ourselves; it’s what we do in fulfillment of ourselves; it is what we are for
Just as the recognition that all we have is a gift from God – from our very existence to our salvation – when we recognize these are gifts given to us, we can’t help but realize that it is our duty to serve others ((forgiven debts))
I thought that the challenges I undertook would impress others and would add to the honor and success of James’ stone somehow or TSP. Having achieved my goals in James’ memory leading up to and including carrying his stone – I have no sense of pride or accomplishment or even satisfaction.
Instead, my chest swells with gratitude; and my mind is fixed on a sense of duty. Gratitude for James’ life and sacrifice – gratitude for his family and friends who have kept his memory alive – gratitude to have his example as a model
and a duty to continue striving to emulate it – to exhibit warmth and friendship and leadership and service and diligence and resilience and persistence.
I expected that once I finally completed the World’s Toughest Mudder with James’ stone, that I would close this chapter. Instead, this entire year and particularly once I actually carried his stone, it was a new beginning. I only carried James’ stone with me for 24 hours in the Nevada desert. But I will carry his memory and draw inspiration from his example for the rest of my life.
My life will be different because of the impression James made on it – it will be different in countless ways exhibited countless times that add up to a truly amazing legacy.
It isn’t that remembering our fallen heroes like James is an honorable thing to do; rather, it is by remembering
It isnt’ that remembering fallen heroes like James demonstrates our good character and honor; rather it’s through remembering them that we learn what good character and honor are and begin to emulate them. When we memorialize James, it isn’t to his benefit; rather his memory benefits us and those to whom we memorialize him.
“Living a life worthy of their sacrifice” is more than “Carpe Diem” or “YOLO” – it isn’t simply a call to get off the couch and get the most we can out of our lives —- it means continuing their legacy through our choices and actions and habits and character —- it means emulating the best of our fallen heroes so their sacrifice is vindicated by their continued positive influence, through the selfless actions their legacy inspires us to take.
We shouldn’t slow down to remember them. We should remember them – and that memory should spur us into action. Rather than mourn their loss, we should thank God for their example and we should go forth inspired to enthusiastically emulate it.
The thought of our fallen heroes most frequently inspires a moment of silence. And the reflection and prayer that fill those silent moments have their place, certainly. But what that reflection should resolve us to – what we should ask for in our prayers – what we say when we finally break that silence should be a call to action. We should challenge ourselves and one another to break free from our self-centeredness and serve others – even when it requires sacrifices.
“Honoring the fallen by challenging the living.” — Challenge to summit a mountain or negotiate an obstacle course… It is when we challenge ourselves to emulate their selflessness and dedication that we honor them… It is when we go outside our push our own egos to the side; when we go outside our comfort zones; when we offer our time, attention, friendship, or a helping hand over a wall that we honor them. When we recognize that these fallen heroes’ lives were oriented toward serving our nation – toward serving us – that we recognize what was already there; what they knew – that all of us, regardless of age or gender or station in life, have a duty to orient our own lives toward serving others. It is when we accept the challenge to subdue our own self-interest and pursue service to others that we truly honor them.